My penpal Sue was back in town and that means several things – good conversation, laughs, good food, and jazz or Broadway. This time Sue, her husband, and their daughters invited me to join them at the Jazz at Lincoln Center to see Chick Corea with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
I’ve been to the Allen Room at J@LC but I haven’t yet been in the Rose Theater, which is their concert hall. It’s the first hall built specifically for jazz. The room is intimate – seats behind the stage help create the intimacy but I can’t say I’d want to sit there. The sound is wonderful. We were in the mezzanine and the orchestra sounded full and you make out every instrument.
They were recording the concert and no photos were allowed. I still managed to sneak this photo during intermission.
The concert was songs from the Chick Corea songbook with new arrangements. I’m not familiar enough with Corea’s work to know what was different about the arrangements but whether a new song or an old song, they all sounded fantastic. With the orchestra you have some of the best jazz musicians in the world:
Also performing were Max Siegel on trombone, Riza Printup on harp, Dan Nimmer on piano, Gayle Moran Correa on vocals, and, of course, Chick Corea on piano.
It took me a while to notice but there was something going on with ties. All the sax players in the front row had on gold ties. The trombone players behind them had red/white striped ties, the bass and drums had red/blue striped ties, and the trumpets in the back row had on blue/gold striped ties. Corea had on a gold tie.
Some of the songs were straight-ahead jazz and other were cacophonous like the beginning of “The Matrix.” Corea introduced “Crystal Silence” as “when a moment is not a moment but is a moment.” Nimmer took over piano for “From Forever (Suite for Big Band dedicated to Herb Pomeroy)” so Corea could conduct. During the piano solo, Corea and Nimmer traded off licks and then played together and it was so much fun. Marsalis was red-faced during his solo he was blowing so long and hard.
“You’re Everything” started with a beautiful melody with just Marsalis and Corea playing. Then Gayle Moran Corea came in for her vocals. Corea introduced his wife as the only vocalist who ever sang for the Mahavishnu Orchestra or Return to Forever (Corea’s jazz fusion group). I wasn’t feeling it though and it didn’t seem like many in the audience were. The melody was lovely though and the song would have made a beautiful instrumental. This was the only song where Moran Corea sang.
Besides the incredible musicianship there were some wonderful humorous bits, especially during some of the solos.
Many people in the audience left during intermission. I’ll never understand that – it happens frequently during New York Philharmonic concerts also. Marsalis and Corea noted that the crowd had thinned out but announced that they’d played for even fewer people in many a jazz club.
During the introductions, Corea reminisced about his career and some of the great musicians he has performed with. Their ghosts were in the hall playing along.
By Carene Lydia Lopez